Airbus says A380 superjumbo production will end

14 February, 2019, 14:38 | Author: Eric Barnett
  • Airbus to stop making struggling A380 superjumbo in 2021

"For us, the A380 is a wonderful aircraft loved by our customers and our crew". Singapore Airlines had received the first A380 in October 2007 and the last one is now slated to be delivered in 2021 to Emirates.

Making its maiden flight in 2005, the A380 was a major step in Airbus's efforts to compete on equal terms with Boeing and challenge what had been a cash cow for its arch-rival. While Airbus was a major force in the single-aisle space with its A320 family, the prestigious long-distance and ultra-large aircraft segment remained the domain of its United States rival.

"The A380 is Emirates' flagship and has contributed to the airline's success for more than ten years".

The final nail in the coffin was the decision by Emirates on Thursday to trim its A380 orders.

The airline will receive just 14 more A380s from 2019 until the end of 2021, taking its total A380 order book to 123 units. Currently, the carrier does not operate any other Airbus type other than the A380 and has no outstanding orders with the manufacturer for A330s or A350s.

From its inception, the A380 was a grand European project.

Production of the jets dominates Airbus profits. The giant fuselage tubes were taken by barge and flat-bed truck to the main facility in Toulouse, and the planes were then painted and kitted out in Hamburg. The A380 succeeded in that - the last passenger 747 was built two years ago - but Boeing will have a kind of last laugh.

Almost 240ft (73m) long and with space for more than 500 passengers, the A380 stole the title of world's largest passenger jet from the Boeing 747 when it took its maiden commercial flight from Singapore to Sydney on October 27 2007.

But airlines seem to increasingly favour more mid-size planes for regional routes, notably in Asia, instead of the hulking A380s or even 747s, increasingly used as a cargo plane.

Markets where Airbus had hoped to sell its prestige plane hardly caught on or didn't materialise at all.

The move to end A380 production will also mean the barge operations along the River Dee will also end.

What was the problem with the A380?

The A380 will remain a pillar of the Emirates fleet well into the 2030s, the airline said.

However, a decision by its biggest customer, Emirates, to downgrade an order appears to have forced Airbus's hand. The plane's large number of seats was seen as instrumental in helping free up traffic in congested airports like London's Heathrow and New York's JFK.

However, the market started to change near the turn of the decade when airlines realized they could buy planes that could fly just as far, but easier to fill up with passengers (and cheaper to fill with fuel).

The A380 has flown more than half-a-million flights and carried more than 190 million passengers, with more than 300 commercial flights a day.

But in the end, it wasn't passenger support, but the lack thereof from airlines that hastened the A380's demise.

Like Concord, the supersonic jetliner that inspired a generation of plane-spotting fans, the A380 was brought back down to earth by the hard truths of commercial board-room economics that gained the upper hand over popular aviation enthusiasm.



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